Among consumers, Wi-Fi is perhaps most commonly associated with the simple pleasures of a few minutes free surfing on the train or alongside a coffee. For mobile network operators, however, the stakes are rather higher. With pressure to build capacity and coverage combining with a fiercely competitive marketplace, the inexorable spread of Wi-Fi offers a compelling route to enhanced customer experience, differentiation, and new revenue streams.
Whilst much attention has focussed on the 4G roll-out, Wi-Fi’s contribution to the connectivity eco-system has largely flown under the radar. But the figures speak for themselves. It is widely reported that, by 2018, there will be one hotspot for every 20 people on the planet; by 2017, seven billion devices will be Wi-Fi enabled1.
To date this rapidly-developing infrastructure has been regarded primarily as a means of meeting unrelenting demand for coverage and download. With 3G networks saturated, many have turned to Wi-Fi to offload traffic, or extend 4G networks into areas where coverage is less reliable. Here Gemalto’s advanced Wi-Fi services can deliver significant benefits. They allow mobile operators to identify peak demand points and, on the basis of this, facilitate the seamless transfer of subscribers to the most suitable network available. An estimated 54% of mobile data traffic will be offloaded by 20192, with per byte costs savings put at 70%3.
For end users, Gemalto facilitates distribution of apps for Wi-Fi and much more. For Wi-Fi applications in particular, the process is facilitated through interactive pop-up messages sent at the appropriate moment, such as first use, roaming, or when data allowances are reached. Security and provisioning are achieved seamlessly without ever needing time-consuming and frustrating log-in/password procedures.
Gemalto can also help mobile operators monetize their unique access to user profiles and time/location information to support contextual mobile marketing campaigns, either for their own services or on behalf of brands, merchants and other enterprises. With the user’s permission, communication can be targeted at the right device, at precisely the moment it will have most impact. The possibilities are near-endless: a timely reminder that you are passing your favourite coffee outlet, or a ‘virtual voucher’ to use in the refreshment carriage as you step on board the train, for example.
At all times, Gemalto’s solution ensures that offload between cellular and Wi-Fi – or vice versa – is performed intelligently, taking into account parameters such as time, network quality, location and battery life. It also enables differentiated services such as VoIP (VoWiFi and VoLTE), with cellular and Wi-Fi complementing one another to ensure seamless user connectivity according to prevailing network quality.
With plans to deploy in commercial aircraft well advanced, it appears that nowhere is beyond the reach of Wi-Fi. Operators need to be equally ambitious. Offloading may be an economic imperative, but progressive enterprises are already looking much further. In an era of ubiquitous Wi-Fi, and a market in which standing still means going backwards, those that do not follow suit may find it increasingly hard to make up for lost time.
Gemalto was present at the LTE Asia 2015 event to share their thoughts and showcase demos on relevant solutions. For more details, please visit here.
- Strategy Analytics
- Cisco VNI
- Broadband Corp.